40th Anniversary: A prayerful wish comes true
30 March 2023|Sr. Evelyn de Alba, FI, Coordinator, Accompaniment Program, JRS Thailand
I joined JRS in October 2005. But before that, I was working in the Campus Ministry of Manuel L. Quezon University, a non-sectarian university in Manila, Philippines. In 2004, I was sent by our Congregation of the Hijas de Jesus (FI) or Daughters of Jesus, for the Renewal Course in Rome, together with the other FI sisters from the Philippines and other countries. At that time, one of our Filipina sisters, Sr. Bema Solis, was working in the JRS International Office in Rome, Italy. She invited our group to visit her in the JRS office and introduced us to the Director and the other staff. As we moved around, I looked at one of the big colorful posters showing the work of JRS. Deep within my heart I prayerfully wished that I could also do the same work. I never thought that the good Lord would grant that prayerful wish!
After the course, I went back to the Philippines and continued my work in Campus Ministry. Our Superior General, Sr. Pilar Martinez, visited our community in the Philippines. We had a big gathering of the FI sisters with her. That time, she announced that the JRS international Director is asking for sisters who can work with JRS-Mae Hong Son. She asked for volunteers. Many of us raised our hands but no one knows who will be chosen. Mother General went back to Rome, but she must have remembered those of us who raised our hands because one day, our Provincial Superior called for me. She told me that Mother General wanted to talk with me on the phone. I greeted her and then she told me that I am one of those chosen to go to Thailand for the work with JRS-MHS. She told me not to tell anyone yet but to pray over it and then she will call me again. I felt very happy and thankful to the Lord for the new assignment but just kept it to myself. After some days, she called me again and asked how I felt after she talked with me, so I told her that I was very happy and thankful to the Lord. Then she told me to start preparing the documents and other things that are needed. Indeed, the new assignment in JRS-MHS is a prayerful wish come true! It started in October 2005 and, with the grace of God, continues until now.
Looking back to the 15 years of working as Coordinator in the Accompaniment Program of JRS-MHS, I feel very blessed, happy, and deeply grateful to the Lord, to our Congregation of the Hijas de Jesus (FI) or Daughters of Jesus that sent me here and to JRS that allows us to work among our refugee brothers and sisters. These years of service, accompaniment, and advocacy with JRS, with our JRS-MHS Team in particular, among our refugee brothers and sisters in Ban Mai Nai Soi and Ban Mae Surin have been an enriching experience that helped me grow as a person and as an Hija de Jesus. It is realizing the desire of our Mother Foundress, Saint Candida Maria de Jesus, to serve the poor. Her words have been an inspiration to us: “Where there is no room for the poor, neither is there a room for me.” As a congregation with the Ignatian Spirituality and a strong sense of belonging to the universal Church, we opt to go where there is a greater need, among our refugee brothers and sisters. Thus, working with JRS enables me to put into life the Church’s and the Congregation’s preferential option for the poor. For this, I continuously praise and thank the Lord for making my prayerful wish come true: working with JRS among our refugee brothers and sisters, serving, accompanying, and advocating for them through the work we do as we continue to journey with them for the greater glory of God and the good of everyone.